Jun 22

From minor traffic violations to serious offenses like DUI, there are certain rights that apply in every Illinois traffic case, according to the Illinois Circuit Court. The following sections will explore important considerations for six driver’s rights in Illinois traffic cases.  

Right to Know the Charge

After law enforcement issues a traffic ticket, the driver is entitled to a written copy of the charges. This written copy must provide the following information:

  • Full name of the driver;
  • Details of the alleged traffic violation;
  • Listing of the law(s), statute(s) or ordinance(s) allegedly violated; and
  • Date, time, and place of the alleged traffic violation.

Right to Know the Penalty

The penalties for traffic violations in Illinois can change drastically based on the nature of the offense. In every case, the driver is entitled to know the precise nature of the penalties involved. Most traffic cases in Illinois fall into one of the five categories below.

  • Petty Offense: This category includes speeding, running a red light, and other minor violations. The penalty for a petty offense is generally a fine up to $1,000.
  • Business Offense: This category includes driving without valid automotive insurance and similar violations. The penalty for a business offense is written into the law and changes based on the offense in question.
  • Class C Misdemeanor: At this level, the driver’s conduct becomes a criminal misdemeanor. For example, a driver with three or more petty offenses may face Class C misdemeanor charges. The maximum penalties include 30 days in jail and $1,500 in fines.
  • Class B Misdemeanor: This category includes more serious offenses, such as excessive speeding or distributing fake IDs. The maximum penalties for a Class B misdemeanor include 180 days in jail and $1,500 in fines.
  • Class A Misdemeanor: This category is the highest level of misdemeanor crime in Illinois. For example, driving while intoxicated or on a suspended license may result in Class A misdemeanor charges. The maximum penalties include 364 days in jail and $2,500 in fines.

Right to an Attorney

Every driver accused of a traffic violation has the right to legal representation. The driver is allowed to choose his or her own attorney. If the driver does not have attorney representation, he or she can utilize the in-court attorney referral program available in each traffic courthouse.

Right to a Jury Trial

Every driver accused of a violation of Illinois state law has the constitutional right to a jury trial. In cases of an ordinance violation — where the sole penalty is a fine — the driver must request a jury trial and pay the $100 fee.

Right of Confrontation

Every driver accused of a traffic violation has the right to present or confront the witnesses and evidence in the case. Specifically, the driver may:

  • Examine witness testimony by asking questions;
  • Produce evidence that contradicts the charges;
  • Present witnesses that help defend against the charges; and
  • Testify in court as to his or her version of the facts.

Right to Remain Silent

Every driver accused of a traffic violation has the right to remain silent. The driver is not required to testify or even offer any evidence at trial. The government is responsible for calling witnesses and introducing evidence to prove the case. If the government cannot meet the required standard of proof, the driver will win the case.

Do You Need Legal Help?

No matter what the criminal offense, all criminal charges are serious. A sound strategy and an aggressive defense are essential for a positive outcome. To protect your rights in such situations, it is highly advisable to retain legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney.

The Prior Law Firm in Bloomington, Illinois, has proven experience in matters of criminal defense. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free consultation. You can reach The Prior Law Firm by phone at (309) 827-4300, email at johnprior@thepriorlawfirm.com or by completing an online form.

image courtesy of Sawyer Bengtson